Ready for a little secret? We’re closeted romance fans here. Kelly and I have been friends for many years – and have shared so many books with each other. Not many people like to admit that they’re fans of Nora Roberts, but there’s a reason that most of her books end up on the NYT’s bestsellers. People really like her books! We’ve enjoyed her Chesapeake Bay series, and they make perfect beach reads.
This set of books started life as a trilogy but due to the popularity a fourth book was written. I’m not sure where I first found these books or when I read them. I only know I reread them year after year. I love this series. The Quinn brothers: Cameron, Ethan, and Phillip all abused boys were taken in by a couple in a small Eastern Shore town on the Chesapeake Bay. The Quinns, a professor and pediatrician unable to have children biologically, adopt the three boys and raise them to be productive members of society. When the series starts Dr. Quinn has passed away several years before and the boys have each gone their own way in life.
Sea Swept is the first book. Cameron has been off in Europe racing boats, racing cars, and chasing women when the call comes that his father is dying. He rushes home to Maryland to find the man he loves dearly, the man who saved him from a burgeoning life of crime, broken and fragile in the hospital. The Mighty Quinn wakes for just a few moments and extracts a deathbed promise from his sons, that they will take care of the newest lost boy he has taken in: Seth. Cam has to give up his world galavanting for at least a little while to help out which is driving him crazy until the social worker, Anna Spinelli stalks into their lives. Anna’s only concern is Seth, she wants to be sure he’s in the best home possible and assumes she’ll be removing him from the care of the Quinns. The brothers will have none of that so she has to reassess and while she’s at it try to keep Cam at bay.
Rising Tides is Ethan’s story. Ethan is the one brother to stay in their hometown and build up a business there. For years he has fought an attraction to longtime friend and friend of the family Grace while she has pined after him. Ethan has decided because of his past, his biological mother that he will never marry, never so much as touch Grace but he can’t seem to stay away from her and her lovely daughter Aubrey.
Throughout the first three books the Quinn brothers struggle with the death of their father, with rumors that he ran into the pole on the side of the road on purpose, with Seth’s selfish feral incubator of a biological mother Gloria DeLauter (hmm think I don’t like her much?), with rumors that Seth is their father’s biological child, that he cheated on their mother, and just with living with each other again and taking care of a wary pre-teen child seemingly waiting for them to abuse him like his mother did.
Inner Harbor is Phillip’s story. Phillip once a juvenile delinquent now a high power advertising executive is splitting his time between Baltimore and home on the Chesapeake Bay to help care for new brother Seth. One night on a rare trip to the local bar he comes across well known psychologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and author Dr. Sybill Griffin who tells him she is there doing research for a new book on the small town life. However she’s really there to check out Phillip and his brothers, her sister has called telling her they stole her son. Yep, she’s Gloria’s sister. You can bet that will go over well when the Quinn brothers find out.
For years I read and reread this series, yes there are some logistical things that are out of whack, like Anna and Cam’s relationship despite her being the assigned case worker, but I always looked past it. The back stories of each of the brothers, including Seth’s break my heart every time. I know from my years teaching that there are children out there who truly do live these lives and thankfully some of them get out and are adopted by wonderful families, now if only all kids in these situations could find a way out.
The last book Chesapeake Blue came about Nora says because so many readers wrote and asked her “What about Seth? When are you going to tell Seth’s story?” I’m so glad they did and that she wrote it. Honestly I think this is my favorite book in the series. I love Seth, I love seeing who he has become as an adult, seeing the rest of the characters I’ve come to know and love, catch up with them is fun. Seeing Seth struggle to explain how he feels to his brothers and them struggle to accept it is compelling. Seeing Seth struggle with his (insert nasty word here) of a mother who has never really left is enough to make you scream but you just know she’s going to get what’s coming to her.
This is a set of books worth reading and rereading. If you’ve never read them go do it!